EPSRC DTP PhD studentship: The role of energy storage in future energy systems

University of Exeter - College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Main supervisor: Prof Catherine Mitchell (University of Exeter)
Co-supervisor: Dr Bridget Woodman (University of Exeter)

In order to tackle climate change, we need to make far-reaching changes to our energy system, whilst also ensuring security and affordability. These changes include the development and deployment of new low carbon technologies; changes to existing energy infrastructure; changes to the governance of energy systems in respect to institutions, rules and regulations, markets and policy frameworks; and changes to the role of people within the energy system.

New technologies and new ways of doing things will be play an important role in enabling change. Increasingly it is suggested that the UK energy system will move away from a large centralised model, towards a more decentralised approach, with supply and demand being balanced at a more local level. This is likely to include the increased deployment of some intermittent renewable energy technologies, meaning that output may not be as predictable as it has been in the past.

At the moment, very little electricity is stored because supplying electricity from fossil fuel plants is cheap. However, to reduce carbon emissions and balance out the variable production of electricity from wind and solar plants, the possibilities of storage have become both more economic and of more interest. Energy storage is important because as well as electricity, it can also play an important role in the heat and transport sectors. It is seen by the Government as one of the 8 great technologies, based on the UK’s scientific and business capabilities.

This project will seek to examine the state and application of energy storage within a transformation to a sustainable energy system. It will do this at a variety of scales, looking at the: international scene where deployment is already happening; the network scale trials that have been taking place within the UK; the work that has been happening within the Southwest, including with a household & business within Cornwall. The proposed PhD will (1) look at the economics of energy storage now and into the future; (2) understand the regulatory barriers now in place; and (3) the regulatory and governance changes that will be needed to enable the potential deployment of storage into the UK energy system.

Collectively this research will better enable the challenges to the uptake of storage with the local, regional and national energy system to be understood. As well as identifying barriers and opportunities for the development of effective energy storage policies and governance arrangements for the UK.

3.5 year studentship: UK/EU tuition fees and an annual maintenance allowance at current Research Council rate. Current rate of £14,296 per year.

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South West England